Archive for the 'Tidbits' Category

Catching up a bit

I love to blog and desperately want to do so regularly, but here’s a funny and rather sad truth: when lots of interesting and blog-worthy things are happening in my life, I don’t have time to blog; and when nothing’s going on, I have time to blog but nothing to say. This means that sometimes – like now – I have a long list of things I wanted to write about, but which happened a while ago so I can’t remember all the wonderful details, and at other (much rarer) times I have no such list and end up staring at a blank WordPress screen wondering what to say.

So today I am just making short mention of a number of special events and thoughts.

We were “on the road again” quite a bit in March and April.

Scott, Andrew, and I took a fun day trip to Eureka Springs (walking about town and up to the Crescent Hotel, lunch at Bubba’s Barbecue, Thorncrown Chapel, bowling) while he was home on Spring Break.

Two weeks later Scott and I had an overnight in North Little Rock for Scott to speak at one of our supporting churches there. We also stopped by my parents’ house for a brief visit.

Six days after that, the two of us drove to St. Louis and back (the same night, 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM) to attend the Varsity Vocals regional semi-finals. Andrew sings baritone in  the Beartones, a men’s a cappella group at MSU. They had won the regional quarter-finals in February and were competing at the next level in St. Louis. Unfortunately, they did not place there, but we enjoyed the concert (including Andrew’s classy back flip!) and were very proud of him and the guys.

Ten days later, Scott and I enjoyed our already well-blogged-about getaway to Panther Cabin and surrounds in northern Arkansas.

A few days after that, I made a trip to Ft. Scott, Kansas to attend the funeral of the elderly mom of one of my dear friends.

After all those trips in a month, I was ready to be home for a while, and the following week Scott left for a three and-a-half week mission trip to Kenya. Ain’t no moss gathering around here!

Then, the day before Easter, the three of us (Scott, Andrew, and I) had an absolutely lovely and WONDERFUL float trip on Bull Creek. We put in at Round Mountain Road and because of time constraints only floated the upper section, taking out at Gaars. It was one of the best float trips I’ve had in a long time, and I want to state for the record that Andrew in particular went out of his way to take total, compassionate care of me every inch of the way. He followed me, looked out for me, walked/hauled me through rapids and other tricky stretches, advised me, encouraged me, and portaged my kayak when necessary; in short, he made absolutely sure that I felt totally safe and secure every single moment we were on the water. He knew that I had had some scary kayaking experiences in the past, and, sensing that I was nervous and dreading the float, he just made it his mission to ensure that I had a good trip. Mission accomplished: I enjoyed it maximally! (Of course, knowing that I was floating with a very strong ace lifeguard who was fully trained in all things rescue didn’t hurt either.)

Tragically, two weeks later we had torrential rain, the creek rose 14 feet in four hours, and two novice kayakers drowned at the same place where we had stopped for a picnic lunch during our idyllic float.

Lessons: Don’t float a stream in raging flood conditions, wear a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer, and be ready spiritually, realizing that life is precious and can be cut short very suddenly.





A few things I’ve learned recently

  1. Never buy Christmas cards that have glitter on them. It is impossible to avoid wearing said extremely fine, powder-like glitter, and despite aggressively washing your face, you will look like a 1990s gymnast for days.
  2. If every press of the comma key causes all text prior to that comma except the initial letter to disappear, and if this happens with your built-in keyboard as well as your external (USB) keyboard, it’s time to re-boot your computer.
  3. Don’t use fresh green beans to make green bean casserole. They are way too crunchy and effectively defeat the whole “comfort food” goal.
  4. Quicken’s ability to download transactions is as fickle as a middle-schooler’s friendships.
  5. There’s also a Great Canadian Baking Show, and it uses the same theme music as its British forebear!

Several items of humor and one new skill

Yes, I will soon crank out all the wonderful vacation blog posts that are swirling around in my head, but as we all know, life does go on, and before I forget them, I do want to document, in no particular order, the following items.

  • In today’s mail, our ministry, Take the Challenge, received a donation receipt from another ministry for a contribution to a young lady who is doing a nine-month, nine-nation mission trip during her gap year. The receipt was addressed to Mr. Scott Challenge. We both got a good laugh out of that, mainly because it was so very apropos.
  • Scott had posted some pictures from our anniversary trip on Facebook, and a number of folks have commented on them. This comment from one friend we haven’t seen since we attended church together some 15+ years ago made us smile. “Y’all are so beautiful! Patty you are one tough cookie. How have u managed all these years. Lol. Always praying for you 2 and your amazing kiddos. Love you all.” I’m encouraged to know I’m a tough cookie!!!
  • Right now half our dining room table is covered with a beach towel of shredded carrots. Explanation: we often have salad for lunch, Scott likes carrots on his, when I opened the bag of carrots that had been purchased some ten days ago the carrots were fine but wet, I needed to dry them so I wouldn’t have to throw them out, and a good airing was the only way I could think of to do it. Hopefully they’ll be dry by the time we need the table for supper.

I’m also pleased to report that since returning home a couple days ago, I’ve been doing well at some goals I’ve unofficially made for myself. I’m scheduling what I do so I don’t get so distracted and waste so much time. I’m letting go of things I don’t want or need. I’m endeavoring to become less busy. I’m trying to learn new skills, including various things about my phone and my computer so I’m not totally dependent on Scott to do all that device stuff for me.  And last night I decided to learn how to grill!

I’m 56, and I don’t think I’ve ever grilled anything in my life. When I was a kid, my dad did the grilling. I didn’t grill in my single years, and since I’ve been married, Scott’s always handled that chore. I always figured it was a guy thing, but sometimes it’s not convenient for him or Andrew to do it, so last night I asked for and was given a grilling lesson. It was fun! We have a nifty gas grill on the porch, and I got Andrew to show me how to turn it on. Pretty simple. You just uncover it, lift the lid, turn on the gas, twist one or more of the burner knobs, and press a button. Then Scott talked me through how to grill the burgers. Of course, our secret recipe homemade burgers truly are a lot better than the frozen patties, but I guess the fact that I hadn’t made them in probably ten years means I’m just too lazy to do that messy bit of work. Then when we got the grill last spring and wanted burgers, I started buying the frozen patties. With the addition of some garlic salt and cheese, I think they turned out really well. And after supper, before covering it all back up, I even cleaned the grill. Which got the wire brush all black and greasy, and when I asked Scott what to do with the messy brush (assuming I’d need to do something to it with hot soapy water), he said, “I hang it up.” So I did.  = )

In no particular order…

I now share the following items of interest (although they may not be of general interest).

On April 29, 2017, our fair unincorporated area experienced a flood of unprecedented and terrifying proportions. The creek rose higher than it ever has in anyone’s memory, and some folks have lived around here for a long time and can remember a lot. It came to within five feet of the bridge and was some 15 feet deep. Our house was fine – we had only four inches of water in the cellar – but the devastation throughout the county was almost unimaginable.

I was quite ill for seven weeks with the most intense and insane poison ivy reaction imaginable, and two weeks into The Untreatable Itch, my physical and emotional health was further compromised by An Acute Asian Stomach Virus, about which all I will say is that it’s a good thing I like our most patriotic room. We are beginning to receive the bills for my medical care, and while they are substantial, the God who is healing my body and soul is also providing all we need.

Scott’s mom came for a visit, and for the ten days she was here, she washed ALL the dishes – voluntarily and without a word of complaint. We played crazy amounts of three-handed bridge and a new and highly addictive card game called “Minus Five.” We also saw “Moses” at Sight and Sound, which we all enjoyed, although I thought the ending was too religious and hokey. For me personally, “Noah” still trumps them all.

Scott planned and many dear friends helped execute a Crossover Celebration to mark Andrew’s transition from boyhood to manhood in conjunction with his 18th birthday. Judy Daniel and Scott put together a truly wonderful keepsake book of letters written for the occasion, and I think it’s accurate to say something along the lines of “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.”

Scott took a group of guys and and their kids on a massive float trip on the Buffalo on the day before Father’s Day. I say massive because the planning, the promoting, the preparing, the procuring (of canoes and kayaks and paddles and life jackets and a canoe trailer and hitches and trailer locks), the labeling, the loading, and the leading of the whole excursion… well, “massive” is just the best word for all that Scott did. And I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all. Note for the future: sunscreen is always indicated when floating – even on cool, cloudy days. They floated Woolum to Baker Ford and were gone for quite a while. A small prize will be awarded to the person who comes closest to guessing the total number of hours involved (from departure from home to arrival back at home).

Josiah moved from his 3rd floor two-bedroom apartment in one complex in Springfield (which he had initially been sharing with two roommates, but then with only one roommate, and most recently with zero roommates) to a different 3rd floor studio apartment in another complex, also in Springfield. Housekeeping has never been Jo’s strong suit – actually, I think he may have a void in that suit – so he wisely hired his brother, a professional cleaner with five years experience, to thoroughly clean his extremely dirty apartment. (Actually, it may not have been cleaned in a year. When Andrew asked him what cleaning supplies and products he had, Josiah said he had a mop and a dishcloth. And that was the literal truth!) It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement: Andrew earned money, and Jo got an apartment clean enough to hopefully recoup his deposit. Ah, brotherly affection – or at least appreciation!

Andrew has moved now into Katie’s room. Well, it was Katie’s room; now it’s Andrew’s! We wanted to give him some privacy and a bigger space, so while I was so very sick, Scott single-handedly boxed up and moved all Katie’s stuff out of there and surprised Andrew by “giving” him the third floor as an 18th birthday gift. Andrew is now planning how he wants his room and the attic bathroom painted. We have a friend at church whom we may hire to remove that peeling bathroom wallpaper and do the painting. Now it’s time for me to get used to calling, “Annnn-DREW!” like I used to call “Kayyyy-TIE!” (They both use the same pitch, so it brings back warm memories.)

And thus ends today’s reminiscences of “interesting things.”


Saw a rainbow this evening!

It was cloudy and sunny and sprinkling – excellent rainbow conditions – and it was one of those rare situations where we could see the entire arch of the rainbow, with a faint portion of a second one beside the brightest leg of the first one. Very, very pleasing, indeed! Andrew took a panoramic photo of it and another one of Scott and me in front of it. Hopefully I will be able to add those to this post sometime soon.

In other news, Jessica is coming home Thursday night!!!

Pastor Barb preached a humdinger of a message about church attendance this morning. WOW.

We spent several hours dealing with a homeless couple today. It was an experience.

Scott, Andrew, and I played Scrabble this evening (with a two-minute timer on Scott’s turns). On one turn, he played all seven of his tiles to form UNLOVING, and got 79 points! Final scores: Patty 161, Andrew 178, Scott 254.

But we saw a rainbow this evening, and it was glorious!

Jeopardy Question: What are 6, 8, and 10?

Answer:  Respectively, the length in feet of the longest icicle on our house (hanging near the back breezeway door), the number of sleds we own beyond the number of children currently living at home to use them, and the total depth in inches of the snow in our yard before it began melting today.

Equidistance and other ponderings

I’ve been thinking lately about the deeper issues of life.

How is it that when 17 birds (of a feather) decide to simultaneously alight on the same power line, they just happen to land almost perfectly equally spaced from each other?

And then, after resting immobile for 26 seconds, how (and why?!) do they play leap frog while still maintaining consistent equidistance?  And who decides which birdie leaps over his neighbor when?

Given an estimated yard slope of 11 degrees and a confirmed wind speed of 18 mph, which is easier:  to rake uphill with the wind, or to rake downhill into the wind?

Why is the kitchen always a mess when it is time to prepare food there?

What was Chopin thinking, anyway?  And is there perhaps something slightly, ummm. . .  wrong with people who can actually play what he wrote?

Why is it that, no matter what time the task is begun, the volume of leaves raked always exceeds the amount of daylight available to burn them?

How is it that my son rakes leaves the same way my father eats corn on the cob?

Cause and effect

Some facts are obvious to all:

* Washing your car makes it rain.

* Going to sleep earlier makes you wake up later.

* Leaving two undone items on your to-do list alone together makes them create more items in your absence.

But here are a few perhaps lesser-known truths:

* Preparing an especially nice supper makes those for whom it is prepared unavailable to eat it while it’s hot.

* Clearing all the dried grass clippings off the porch, steps, and front walk makes someone mow the grass.

* Walking briskly for 40 minutes in a cold, steady rain makes other residents use up all the hot water.

* If gas is the same price at all stations, buying gas at any given station makes all the other stations immediately lower their prices.

* Doing something nice for someone you love makes them smile!

Well, the Walnut Shade Mom is not doing very well at posting on a daily basis!  As I play catch-up, here are a few miscellaneous notes about life in the recent past.

Scott, who has endured much trial with back pain this year, is doing better, praise God!  He has been able to run a bit and had even played basketball a couple times.  You may remember the never-ending mattress saga. . .  Well, we’ve had the desk saga, too, and since he works three days in Springfield and two at home, all the desk changes get duplicated.  Some of the desk changes were related to the arm pain he developed in June, and some have been for his back.  So far he’s had:

The regular desk with a regular chair and the regular monitor

The tri-level desk (lower keyboard, higher monitor) regular desk with the regular chair and a monster monitor (think flat screen TV on your desk)

The tri-level desk with a bar stool and the monster monitor

The tri-level desk raised up on cinder blocks with no chair (he just stood) and the monster monitor

The tri-level desk at normal height with a kneeling chair and the monster monitor

So far, so good!  = )

We all six got to be together over google chat a couple nights ago.  Jessica was about to head out to help lead the FEET team on their ten-week foray into four countries, three of which are India, Cambodia, and Thailand, and the fourth of which is a closed country and therefore in that special category called, “the places of which we do not speak.”  She is quite excited and eager to get going and we are confident that God will do incredible (literally incredible) things with, through, and on behalf of this great team!  This trip is a sweet redemption from stuff in the past.

It was super for Scott, Andrew, and me to see Jessica (so happy), Katie (“Of course I made them; I don’t BUY cookies!”), and Josiah (“the beard could do with a neck trim”) and get to listen to all of them.  What a family!!!

Scott is leading a small group of men every other Tuesday night.  We think this is good for the men and it gives Andrew and me a little break, as well.  It is one of those exceedingly rare 90-minute time periods in which the Skink is NOT watching the Red Sox.

My tomatoes are producing nicely.  “Nicely” means we have enough for us to eat as desired, enough to give Pastor Barb at least weekly, and enough to share with other folks from time to time.  The Big Beef have the best tomato taste, but the Early Girls are also good.  I have no tomato complaints, at least not at this time.

My red peppers FINALLY ripened in September, but they have been getting these nasty soft spots that I can’t explain or get rid of.  I sent Jessica a pack of them – since the main reason I grew them, and started them so very early was so they would ripen while she was here in July and August, but no! – but even though they arrived in only a little over a week, they were moldy.  I think I will skip red peppers next year.

Our neighbors down the road are gah gah for jalapenos, so after I use the one per week I need to make salsa, I give them the other ten or so, and they eat them like candy.  Hard to believe, but true.

We had a guest minister at church on Sunday – some bag lady with really bad teeth from Toad Suck, Arkansas.  She found it grand that Scott and I have been to Toad Suck – we’ve done Toad Suck Daze and seen Toad Suck Ferry lock and Dam, and the whole bit.  Comes of having been students at Hendrix.  Anyway, this woman was a scream.  We all laughed so hard we almost cried, and she gave one woman in the congregation a Depends, ’cause the poor lady was about to bust a gut laughing.  Then that lady saw ME laughing and gave me her protection.  Sheesh.  That made me laugh even harder.  You never know who will show up or what will happen at church.

I think that’s all for now.  I will go get supper ready for Scott.  We need to eat on time tonight, because Andrew and I have choir practice tonight.

Notes from today

1.  Andrew is quite a bit taller than me.

2.  Reno has run in the rain without stalling a single time as long as he’s given 30 minutes pre-driving dry-out time.

3.  Wal-Mart only carries pink or purple lunch bags in April.  Neither color is fitting for a sophisticated (male) software design consultant.  The question thus becomes, “Is shabby, frayed, ripped red or blue better or worse than new pink or purple?”

4.  When driving a borrowed car that is brand new, one should be very careful when backing up.

5.  If 12 oz of Bar-S hot dogs (8-count) cost $0.89 and 16 ox of Oscar Meyer hot dogs (10-count) cost $1.88, and you have been instructed to buy “150 cheap hot dogs,” how many packages of which brand should you buy?

6.  When the youth group has worship (music) during the Wednesday night service, we adults can hear the drums in the adult service, and it makes me envious.

7.  Coming home at 8:45 PM on Wednesday to face crusty dishes is not fun.  Oh, how I wish Josiah would do that clean up for me!




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